About a year ago I encountered several urban legends about the Chicago rental environment that circle around the idea that the system is biased against landlords. I don’t like to see assumptions go unchallenged, so I set out to find out the statistical truth behind each of the component parts. Here are the original assumptions, with their results.
- The courts favor tenants over landlords in eviction cases. FALSE.
- The suburban courts, especially in wealthy areas, are more favorable to landlords when it comes to eviction. FALSE.
- The evolution of the CRLTO is making the landlord-tenant situation progressively worse. TRUE.
- Eviction only happens to bad landlords in bad areas of town. FALSE.
- Lawyers and Juries have a marked effect on the outcome of eviction cases. POSSIBLE.
- The CRLTO is biased against landlords. POSSIBLE.
Evictions in Cook County are a multimillion dollar industry. With close to 40,000 cases happening each year, the amount of time and energy devoted to people who don’t pay their rent is mind-bogglingly vast. In fact, today I want to take some time to discuss what the eviction industry is costing Chicago in terms of lost time and money. And tenants, if you think this doesn’t pertain to you, it does. Remember that the resources that a landlord puts into evictions could otherwise be spent purchasing and rehabilitating the apartment buildings that are currently sitting empty and inaccessible.
Long time readers will know what this means. I’m going to do math for you. Again.
Yay math time!
We’re talking about lawyers and juries and how they affect the eviction numbers today, along with some interesting data that I picked up along the way. This article is deviating a bit from the its predecessors in the series, in that I’m not going to be relying too heavily on the numbers I got from the Cook County Clerk. I’ve had to reach beyond to do some additional research. Instead of footnoting everything like I usually do, I will instead provided a bibliography of sources down at the bottom so you can read all of the reports at your leisure, if that’s your thing.
You can fit a couple of eviction hearings in the time it takes to cook Ramen.
I want you to imagine a scenario with me for a moment. You are a landlord. A tenant moved into your apartment in October. It is now February and you have not seen a rent check since the first month. The tenant has moved in a whole crew of additional occupants, and a pit bull. They have also apparently spent their rent money on a big screen TV, because you can see it on the floor of their apartment, leaning against the wall underneath the big hole that it left when it fell down.
You filed to evict in after the 2nd missed rent payment, in early December, like any good landlord. Due to the wait and the holiday season, your court date was scheduled for early February. You arrive in court. You’re ready to tell your whole story.
Talk fast. You’ve got 90 seconds in front of the judge. You have to split that with the tenant if they decide to mount a defense. Better know your stuff. (more…)
I’ve spent the past 6 sections of this study focusing mostly on what the Cook County/Chicago eviction statistics mean for landlords. It’s time to focus a little on what they mean for renters. I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not going to tell you how to win your eviction case. There are far better resources than me out there for saving your bacon. This article is focusing on the numbers.
A lot of you have been involved in eviction cases.
7 out of every 100 apartments in Chicago will be the subjects of eviction cases each year. Given that apartments often house more than one person, this means if you’re a renter in Chicago, you’ve got quite a bit more than a 7% chance of winding up involved in an eviction suit. (more…)
There’s two different types of eviction cases that can be filed by a landlord in Cook County. One is called “Forcible Entry & Detainer,” and the other is called “Joint Action.” In order to explain the difference I’d like to take a moment to talk to you about Buffalo wings. This will make sense in a moment, I promise.
|The Wings. The meat of the matter. What you’re really there for.
||Forcible Detainer & Entry. In other words, the landlord wants to get the tenant out of the apartment. This is the core purpose behind every eviction case.
|Celery. The green stuff. Not a reason to go out for dinner on its own. You can make it at home.
||Also green stuff. The eviction equivalent would be a court-ordered demand that a tenant pay their unpaid rent. Much like celery, this is hardly ever pursued on its own at the court level.
|Buffalo wings. The whole thing. Celery and dressing combine their cooling powers to the chicken to make a culinary miracle.
||In eviction court, a landlord files a joint action case when they want to get the tenant out AND they want the court to enforce payment of back rent.
Got it? Good. (more…)
The Chicago Landlord-Tenant ordinance has been amended many times since its creation in 1986. The most recent changes were in 2004, 2008 and 2010. By and large these changes have been in response to major trends in landlord-tenant behavior. For example, since 2010 landlords have had to tell their tenants the name and address of the bank where a security deposit is held. This was so that tenants could still track down their deposits if the bank foreclosed on their apartment building.
As is often the case with law changes, the general reaction to new CRLTO amendments has involved a lot of hand-wringing and fretting among landlords. Meanwhile, the economic troubles that have plagued our country in the past half a decade would theoretically cause more tenants to miss rent payments and get into situations that might prompt an eviction case. This nasty combination of tighter laws and a weaker economy made me wonder if the rate of eviction filings was getting higher or lower over time.
Evictions by Year: City and Suburbs
How this article started
It is a peculiarity of American evictions that they are held at the county/parish level instead of at the city/municipal level as one might expect. This means that even though Chicago rentals are generally protected by Chicago-specific laws, evictions are handled by the Cook County District courts, of which there are six.
||City of Chicago
|3rd, Rolling Meadows